Rask expresses unhappiness over lack of playing time

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Rask expresses unhappiness over lack of playing time

In probably the worst case of timing the Bruins goaltending tandem have exhibited all season, Tuukka Rask voiced discontent with his playing time to a Finnish news outlet during a recent interview.

That it cropped up while goalie partner Tim Thomas is causing an uproar with his politics-filled Facebook account just makes it that much more troublesome.

Rask recently told the Finnish magazine, Urheilu Lehti, what anybody with a competitive bone in their body must have assumed were his private thoughts as a backup goaltender.

Rask clearly wants to play more.

While Rask and Thomas have been closer to even in their playing time this season, the Finnish understudy doesnt seem to dig being an apprentice much longer. Granted all caveats have to be made for imperfect translations and the Finnish media weighing in on the topic from an outside position, but the Rask quotes tell the story.

"The truth is that I want to play more. I do not want to spend a whole career sitting on the bench," Rask said to the Finnish sports media through the power of Google translator. "It is felt that even when I have a good game, the next game is on the bench. If I play and have a shutout, it is not enough.

Claude Julien answered some very vanilla Rask questions following Friday mornings practice at TD Garden, and it appeared Tim Thomas may be getting the start Saturday afternoon against the Nashville Predators.

Everybody knows Rask is getting impatient while waiting it out for his turn as the No. 1 goaltender to arrive. Its all the more patience-trying when a fellow countryman like Pekka Rinne arrives in town with a weighty new contract and superstar NHL status in tow.
Those are things that Rask clearly aspires to as well as a product of the goaltending factory known as Finland.

But Julien said Rask has done a good job this season maturing into his role, and demanding more like playing time while riding a four-game losing streak normally isnt the safest road to go down. Rask is 0-2 with a 4.54 goals against average and .854 save percentage in two games during the month of February, and was yanked early in the monumental defeat in Buffalo.

With that in mind, Rask was out on the ice before and following practice Friday morning while working to get that comfortable feeling back between the pipes.

Getting pulled out the other night he knew right then and there that he wasnt comfortable and he wasnt good enough. There were no issues at all, said Claude Julien. Its just the way it goes. Its a long year. Sometimes he feels like things are off and today he went out there early to work on his game. Hes a really good athlete when it comes to honestly analyzing his game: when he feels good and comfortable he knows it and when hes not he senses it.

He didnt feel comfortable the other night and I think he told Timmy sorry for putting you in this spot. Thats the kind of player he is. Thats Tuukka in a nutshell.

Hes also been consistent with the Boston media that he loves the city of Boston, and any discontent is borne out of being a natural competitor.

Rasks time will come and he seems to know it no matter what a Finnish newspaper has quoted him as saying. But hes also clearly still the backup.

Thomas has made 35 appearances this season to Rasks 20 games despite the 24-year-old Finn sporting the same save percentage and a better goals against average.

Hes more mature and hes had a good year. His last few games he hasnt been on top of his game, but he knows that. I dont even have to tell him. He knows it, said Julien. As a coach you know hes working on certain things and he wants the extra time. Hes playing more at this time this year than he did last year, but he wants to work hard to stay sharp.

As a group we still have a lot of confidence in this guy. As you saw earlier in the year hes got as good a numbers as Tim does.

Time will tell how things play out between Rask and Thomas, but a playing time gripe to a Finnish news outlet is certainly not what the Bruins needed with the current state of their goaltenders.

Thomas excited for reunion with Green

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Thomas excited for reunion with Green

WALTHAM, Mass. -- When the phone rang this summer, Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas had to do a double-take when he saw the name on the caller ID.

It was Gerald Green, his ex-teammate in Phoenix.

Although they only shared a locker room for 45 games in Phoenix, the two became quick friends.

On the court they developed instant chemistry while coming off the Suns bench. And that bond spilled off the court as Green would later spend time with Thomas in the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. area in the summer months.

They were cool with each other, cool enough to where Thomas knew it wasn’t in Green’s nature to pick up the phone and call just to say hi.

“Gerald doesn’t call anybody,” Thomas said. “When he called I knew something was up.”

Green said Boston, the team that drafted him in 2006 straight out of high school, was interested in bringing him back for a second stint with the club.

“I tried to put my two cents in and he got here,” Thomas said.

There were several factors that led Green back to Boston, with a chance to reunite with Thomas being high on that list.

Green, already in Phoenix at the time the Suns signed Thomas in 2014, was impressed with the way the 5-9 guard carried himself.

“He was a genuine guy, came in really humble,” Green said. “I saw the talent was there. I knew he had the potential to be one of the best point guards in this league.”

Thomas certainly made a case for such lofty praise with how he performed last season, good enough to earn his first all-star selection.

What really stuck out to Green was that Thomas’ mentality and approach to the game was almost a carbon copy of his own.

“When we stepped on the court we had the same mentality,” Green said. “By any means necessary, get a bucket and play harder than the next team; just try and push the first team, make the first team better every day.”

Thomas was coming off the bench, showing lots of potential and promise that he could carry a heavier load if given an opportunity to do so.

He averaged 15.2 points, 3.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 25.7 minutes off the Suns bench in 46 games. Even more significant was that when Thomas did play for the Suns, they were 26-20.

In the games without him, they were just 13-23.

Green was admittedly disappointed they traded away Thomas, believing that season would have had a very different outcome had they not sent him to Boston.

And just like Green recognized Thomas’ skills and how much his team could have benefited from keeping him around, Thomas speaks in glowing terms about Green and what his return to Boston means for the team.

“We needed someone like him; a guy that could shoot the ball, a guy that could space the floor; instant scorer whether he starts or comes off the bench,” Thomas said. “Where the he starts or come off the bench. He’s going to really help us.”

Green has big game as Bengals dominate Dolphins 22-7

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Green has big game as Bengals dominate Dolphins 22-7

CINCINNATI -- For most of the game, A.J. Green piled up more yards than the entire Miami Dolphins offense in a virtuoso performance. As an encore, he thrilled the crowd by juggling some Florida citrus.

The Bengals receiver followed his disappointing game with a dominating one - 173 yards and a touchdown - and a Cincinnati defense that was inspired by Vontaze Burfict's return clamped down on the Dolphins for a 22-7 victory Thursday night.

The Bengals (2-2) rebounded from a 29-17 home loss to Denver on Sunday with a solid all-around game against a depleted team.

Green led the way, beating the Dolphins (1-3) on every type of route . He was upset with himself after he dropped a pivotal third-down pass and failed to make an impact against the Broncos.

"I hold myself to a very high standard," said Green, who had 10 catches. "I know what I'm capable of. Last week I didn't perform to that level. I had to refocus on a short week."

During the first three quarters, Green had 166 yards on catches while Miami had 152 total yards. The Bengals' season-long problem of stalling out near the goal line forced them to settle for Mike Nugent's season-high five field goals.

Afterward, Green and Andy Dalton appeared on the postgame show, and the receiver entertained the dozens of Bengals fans who stayed around by smoothly juggling three oranges at the interview desk.

"Any time he was one-on-one, he was able to make the play," Dalton said.

The Dolphins were missing four starting offensive linemen, two linebackers, running back Arian Foster and tight end Jordan Cameron. They had one big play - Ryan Tannehill threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills - but couldn't do anything else on offense.

"We've got to get it fixed and quick, and by that I mean Monday," Tannehill said. "We're kind of in a dark spot right now. It's squarely on our shoulders."

The Bengals' defense expected to get a lift from Burfict's return. The volatile linebacker was suspended by the NFL for the first three games because of his illegal hits. He got a loud ovation when he ran onto the field during introductions wearing a baseball cap. Burfict knocked down a pass and had three tackles.

"He's amazing," end Carlos Dunlap said. "Did you see the plays he made? Those aren't plays you can coach. He came off his couch and played great. It's good to have him back."

Mostly, it was Green's show. He caught a 51-yard pass off Dalton's scramble in the first half, and had a 43-yard catch that set up another field goal in the third quarter for a 19-7 lead.

REMEMBERING FERNANDEZ

A large fan banner in the upper deck at Paul Brown Stadium honored Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died with two friends in a boat crash early Sunday near Miami Beach. The banner read: "Jose 16 Heaven's Bright."

STILL CAN'T RUN

The Bengals rushed for 77 yards and only a 2.1-yard average against the second-worst run defense in the league, one missing two starting linebackers.

SLOPPY DOLPHINS

Miami had seven penalties for 68 yards. The most egregious was by Terrence Fede, who pushed Kevin Huber to the ground after he punted in the third quarter. The penalty gave Cincinnati the ball, and the Bengals got a field goal out of it.

INJURIES

Dolphins: LT Branden Albert and C Anthony Steen were inactive with sprained ankles. Also missing were LBs Koa Misi (neck) and Jelani Jenkins (groin). C Mike Pouncey has missed all four games with a hip injury.

Bengals: TE Tyler Eifert was inactive again, contributing to the Bengals' trouble close to the goal line. He's recovering from offseason ankle surgery and returned to practice on a limited basis last week. CB Dre Kirkpatrick was inactive with a hamstring injury suffered Sunday. G Clint Boling sat out most of the fourth quarter with an injured left shoulder.

ANTHEM STATEMENTS

Stills and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas knelt with their hands over their hearts during the anthem.

FANTASY IMPACT

Tannehill was 15 of 25 for 189 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a fumble and five sacks. Dalton was 22 of 31 for 296 yards with a touchdown and a sack.

UP NEXT

The Dolphins begin a stretch of four straight home games against Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Jets.

The Bengals have a tough two-game stretch, playing Dallas and New England on the road. They're 1-5 in Dallas, dropping their last three. They've dropped their last six at New England, last winning in 1986.